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Household tips & tricks from Giuseppe Conlon House

Squirrel catching, marmalade tea and more!

ImageGiuseppe Conlon House in North London is home to the London Catholic Worker, a young Christian ecumenical community. Giuseppe Conlon House is a house of hospitality for asylum-seekers and migrants, as well as a base for nonviolent action against militarism and injustice. Community members and volunteers live and work full-time in the house, sometimes sharing rooms. The house, opened in 2010, is named after Patrick ‘Giuseppe’ Conlon, a Belfast man who was framed for two IRA bombings. Giuseppe Conlon died in a British prison in 1980, 11 years before his conviction was overturned by the court of appeal.


Mirjam Johansson writes:

One of the things about living in community is the privilege of meeting so many different people. I mean, really very different. At times I think I’m the only normal person around, sceptical about ways unfamiliar to me! But at other times I am humbled and amazed, or simply amused. So, in honour of all the people who have visited or lived in our community and in honour of all our different ways of being and doing, I would like to share with you a compilation of tips and tricks I’ve come across over the years in Giuseppe Conlon House. Try them at your own risk!

  1. Keep your popcorn in the freezer! The sudden temperature change from frozen to hot makes them pop better.
  2. For calming an unsettled stomach – drink some thyme infusion or eat lots of salad.
  3. Crush the garlic between the knife and chopping board before peeling it and the peel will come right off.
  4. Add a few teaspoons of baking powder to the water when boiling pulses. They will go softer and require less time to boil.
  5.  Flavour your tea with marmalade.
  6. To save time (and energy!) add your oats to your morning coffee and they will soften and turn into porridge on the bottom of the cup by the time you’ve finished your drink.
  7. If you need to catch a squirrel with your hands, wear gloves.
  8. If you have confidential documents to destroy, less tedious than shredding them is to soak them in a bucket of water until they disintegrate. (We are testing this suggestion out, but don’t come looking for our bucket, it is kept in a very secret location. It’s not good to leave the paper in the bucket for too long. It goes very smelly!)
  9. Love croissants, but not the ham and cheese ones? Establish a symbiotic relationship with someone who likes ham and cheese but not croissants. Remove the ham and cheese, give it to your friend, add your own chocolate spread and you’ve got a chocolate croissant with a nice and fashionable salty flavour from the residue of the original filling.
  10. When boiling grains like rice and quinoa, only use about two-thirds of the recommended amount of water, bring to the boil and then cook on very low heat for a longer time.
  11. For any non-resolvable issue: You can only accept it.
  12. Make your own leg-waxing gloop from boiled lemon juice and sugar. It tastes yummy too – before you’ve used it! (From the Catholic Worker Farm – more leg-waxing going on there, no doubt.)
  13. To get rid of bedbugs without chemicals – buy some Beauveria bassiana fungi that infect and kill bedbugs. Allow for a bedbug lifecycle of 8–10 days before they are all gone. The fungi can be bought online.
  14. Has your remote control gone missing? Why not use an umbrella instead?
  15. Ever forgotten which side the fuel cap on your car is? There is a little arrow on the dashboard by the fuel level indicator.
  16. If you accidentally make a curry too spicy, add mashed potato powder to make it mild and creamy. ‘And it actually works!’ says surprised volunteer cook.
  17. If your vegetable stew is too thin, add some rice pudding to make it nice and creamy. (From a Franciscan community in Bradford.)
  18. When putting on a duvet cover, turn it inside out and stick your arms all the way in to grasp the duvet by the top corners. Then stand somewhere high up (we have a balcony you could use) and shake vigorously until the duvet is in. For an even easier experience, make a hole in each corner of the cover big enough to fit your hand through.
  19. Mayonnaise is a great ingredient for improvised cake-making! The vinegar in it helps the baking powder to raise the cake.
  20. If you are going on holiday, put your plants on a wet towel in the bathtub. Remember to take the plug out! Otherwise you could return back to a smelly brown pool with floating slimy plants.

Mirjam Johansson is a long term member of the London Catholic Worker. This article is taken from the Winter 2018 London Catholic Worker newsletter, available from: www.londoncatholicworker.org